“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
If you cannot lead yourself, how can you lead others? Before leading others, you have to lead yourself first.
Leading yourself better starts by asking yourself a question about what you really need to do, not what you have to do, have done the most, or think others expect of you. This profoundly simple, self-scoring, self-interpreting question is the key to developing yourself as the right person for the right assignment, thus helping you avoid frustrating yourself and others. Once you’ve clearly answered this question, you will be lead to say, “Now I see clearly that it is O.K. to be me!”
Understanding yourself better helps you choose better assignments, relationships and the most suitable career for you. Let’s admit it, there are many people who are stuck in careers and relationships they are not suitable for. The reason they are stuck in there is because of status, money and fear of venturing out because they may fail. In a workplace for an example, if you are not suitable for the role you are occupying, it leads to a lack of creativity and ultimately frustration. I just want to take you through the self-profiling technique that will help you get in touch with who you are. To introduce this three-step self-profiling technique, here is the question you need to honestly ask yourself, “If money wasn’t an issue, if I were to be paid what I want irrespective of the position, would I still prefer to be in this role? Is this really my first preference or is it just because it is where money is?” Now, this question helps you clarify your mind. This question helps you further define who you are and where you fit in the organization and also help you as a leader to hire people who are the best fit for the organization.
Here are the three main personal work preferences:
A designer is a person who is a creative. This is a person who generates new ideas and enjoys that phase of ideas. This is their preference. This person is more suitable for the environment that is very fluid, that is forever changing, for an examples: Internet of things, artificial intelligence, sales automation services, virtual assistance, shipping and logistics, security analysis, health care, etc. These environments require people who prefer change over routine work.
A developer is a person who prefers testing, developing and implementing new ideas. A developer may not be so strong in coming up with new ideas, but this is a person that enjoys testing the validity of new ideas that they may either come up with themselves or from other people.
The stabilizer prefers a stable environment. They prefer following a set schedule. Change is not their preference at all. They maintain the status quo. This is someone who brings in stability and mostly results on what’s agreed on, not a creative. In this everchanging world of ours, you must stay relevant to your market and customers to survive or else you’ll easily get overtaken by competitors and be thrown out of business if you don’t keep smelling the roses for freshness. Think of the few stories that are examples of a stabilizer mindset “don’t fix it if it’s not broken”: Swiss watch, Kodak, IBM, Yahoo, Nokia, Xerox and many others. They missed out on innovation while focusing on what ‘worked’.
Every organization needs a healthy mix of employees depending on the phase the organization is on. Of course, there is a sliding scale on each of these phases. What this means is that you may operate on a ratio say of 90:10; 80:20; 70:30, etc. between phases. For an example, you may prefer designing for 90% of the time, have a strong preference on designing and 10% developing. The same may apply between developing a stabilizing/maintaining – 80% developing and 20% maintaining and so on and so forth. So, based on the above, what is your preference? This helps you choose the most suitable industry for you. Employing a Designer for a company that is in a stable phase of ideas will be very frustrating to a designer. The Stabilizers won’t be happy as well because they will be asked uncomfortable questions about things they don’t see anything wrong with.
Coming back to leadership, if you promote an excellent Stabilizer to a leadership role to lead Designers and Developers, you can imagine the frustration and chaos you’ll cause in the workplace. As anthropological beings, we love to be liked and for this to happen, we tend to surround ourselves with people like ourselves, with same interests which unfortunately doesn’t do good for the growth of the organization. These are the team dynamics that a leader must be aware of and effectively deal with. I am certain you’ve seen people who were wrongly hired into positions they were not suitable for and destabilized the team and negatively affecting the company’s productivity.
So, for you to lead others better, you firstly need to study yourself and do self-profiling that will help you discover yourself which will in turn help you understand and lead yourself better rather than forever chasing positions of power while setting yourself up for failure and bringing out the worst in others.
Once again, here is the question, “If money wasn’t an issue, if I were to be paid what I want irrespective of the position, would I still prefer to be in this role? Is this really my first preference or is it just because it is where the money is?”
Yes, knowing yourself is truly the beginning of wisdom.
Veli Ndaba is a Neuro-Engineering Leadership Speaker and Trainer, Neuro-Engineering Life & Business Coach and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org, www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773